Sixty-one years ago today, the television show My Three Sons premiered on ABC. This show was on heavy rotation at our retro channels that we watched growing up. We loved the theme song, we loved the fashion, and we loved the guest stars.
Starring: Fred MacMurray, William Frawley, William Demarest, Don Grady, Stanley Livingston, Barry Livingston, Tim Considine, Meredith MacRae, Tina Cole, Beverly Garland, Dawn Lyn, Ronne Troup, Daniel, Joseph, and Michael Todd
Theme music composer: Frank De Vol
No. of seasons: 12
No. of episodes: 380
Executive producer: Don Fedderson
Producers: Peter Tewksbury (1960–1961), George Tibbles (1961–1962), Edmund L. Hartmann (1962–1972)
Running time: 25 minutes
Production companies: Don Fedderson Productions, Gregg-Don, Inc. (1960–1965) (seasons 1–5), MCA TV (1960–1965) (seasons 1–5), CBS Productions (1965–1972)(seasons 6–12)
Distributor: Viacom Enterprises(1976–1994), CBS Television Distribution
Original network: ABC (1960–1965), CBS (1965–1972)
Picture format: Black-and-white (1960–1965), Color (1965–1972)
Original release: September 29, 1960 – April 13, 1972
My Three Sons is an American sitcom. The series ran from 1960 to 1965 on ABC, and moved to CBS until the end of its run on April 13, 1972. My Three Sons chronicles the life of widower and aeronautical engineer Steven Douglas (Fred MacMurray) as he raises his three sons.
The series originally featured William Frawley (who had first co-starred with MacMurray 25 years earlier in the movie Car 99) as the boys’ live-in maternal grandfather and housekeeper, William Michael Francis “Bub” O’Casey. William Demarest, playing Bub’s brother, “Uncle Charley”, replaced Frawley in 1965 due to Frawley’s illness. In September 1965, eldest son Mike (Tim Considine) married fiancée Sally Ann Morrison (Meredith MacRae), and his character was written out of the show. To keep the emphasis on “three sons”, original youngest son Chip’s friend Ernie was adopted. In the program’s later years, Steven Douglas remarried and adopted his new wife’s young daughter Dorothy (“Dodie”) (Dawn Lyn).
The series was a cornerstone of the ABC and CBS lineups in the 1960s. With 380 episodes produced, it is third only to The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet (14 seasons, 1952–1966, 434 episodes) and It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia (13 seasons) as television’s longest-running live-action sitcom. Disney producer Bill Walsh often mused on whether the concept of the show was inspired by the film The Shaggy Dog, as in his view they shared “the same dog, the same kids, and Fred MacMurray”.